I Was Born, But...

I Was Born, But... ★★★★½

The sweet, silent, black-and-white forebear to Good Morning. Unlike in later works, where he doubled-down on the low-angle, stationary shooting that’s integral to the unique purity of his formal signature, here Ozu lets his camera travel rather freely, and is less concerned with frontality when looking at his actors. It works well when, for example, he shows boys lined up in their schoolyard, and then cuts to an office, where a dolly shot shows us men similarly side by side, yawning at their desks. It illuminates a larger theme: the parallels between childhood and adulthood, whether it’s how turning up at school day after day can be as tedious and tiring as clocking in at the office, or how social hierarchy exists among both the young and old. As usual, Ozu isn't interested in who’s to blame for anything; neither the bullies nor the bosses are cartoonishly villainized. Everyone is human and flawed in an Ozu film. It's accepting each other's flaws that's hard.

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